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Transitional expressions of time used in narratives


An account of a sequence of events, usually in chronological order. One of the progymnasmata.

Narrative writing can take various forms, including personal essays, biographical sketches (or profiles), and autobiographies in addition to short stories and plays.

See also:

Narrative Essays:


From the Latin, "knowing"

Examples and Observations:

  • A Short Narrative by E.B. White
    "The barber was cutting our hair, and our eyes were closed--as they are so likely to be. . . . Deep in a world of our own, he heard, from far away, a voice saying goodbye. It was a customer of the shop, leaving. 'Goodbye,' he said to the barbers. 'Goodbye,' echoed the barbers. And without ever returning to consciousness, or opening our eyes, or thinking, we joined in. 'Goodbye,' we said, before we could catch ourself. Then, all at once, the sadness of the occasion struck us, the awful dolor of bidding farewell to someone we had never seen. We have since wondered what he looked like, and whether it was really goodbye."
    (E.B. White, "Sadness of Parting." The New Yorker, May 4, 1935)

  • Narratives in College Writing Assignments
    "Why is narrative writing important in a class devoted to learning to write for college? The narrative offers several important benefits:
    - It can help you 'loosen up' and write naturally. Telling or listening to stories is so enjoyable that learning to write them down is a good way to gain a sense of comfort as a writer.
    - You can use narrative as a brainstorming technique to generate ideas for future essays, regardless of the type of essay you are writing.
    - You can employ narrative writing, even in expository and argumentative contexts, to introduce your essays and to provide supporting evidence for your body paragraphs.
    - Because stories happen in time, you can begin to learn how to pace your writing and provide transitions to enhance the way it 'flows.' Furthermore, the natural pauses in the flow of most narratives give you the chance to practice describing people, scenery, and emotions."
    (Luis Nazario, Deborah Borchers, and William Lewis, Bridges to Better Writing. Wadsworth, 2010)

  • "In narrative writing, an author has a chance to make his or her mark on the world by relating a story that only he or she can tell. Whether it comes from a personal experience or is one that the writer has imagined, the point of a narrative is to bring one's subject to life. By using sensory details, the five Ws and H (who, what, where, when, why, and how), and basic story structure, any subject can be made exciting."
    (L. Spencer, A Step-by-Step Guide to Narrative Writing. Rosen, 2005)

  • Narrative in Creative Nonfition
    "Narrative tension or narrative 'pull' is just as important in creative nonfiction as it is in fiction. . . . [Y]ou need to think about when to withhold information and when to reveal it."
    (K. Iversen, Shadow Boxing. Pearson, 2004)

  • "Whenever you incorporate narrative into your writing, remember that good narrators use concrete, vivid language to show their readers what is happening. They strive for visual elements to add presence to their writing."
    (Maxine C. Hairston, Successful Writing, 3rd ed. W.W. Norton, 1992)
Pronunciation: NAR-a-tiv
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